Welcome to another edition of Sites Weekly.
In this week’s edition, you will find links to articles about the following:
- Content. A quick tip for the next time you’re struggling to finish a blog post
- Design. 27 useful, research-backed tips to help you design a website that works
- Technology. An in-depth tutorial on how to use Amazon Polly
- Strategy. Durable URLs for SEO: how, when & why to use them
- Bonus. How to decide if you really need to schedule a meeting
But first …
Last week on Sites
This is the beginning of a two-part series in which I give you advice to help you choose the right kind of opt-in forms for your site, and then combine them with an irresistible opt-in incentive to drive major subscriber growth. We began with three questions to help you add the right opt-in forms to your site … without incurring dreaded Google penalties.
Opt-in forms are an essential part of the online marketing experience. Executed well, your subscriber base can grow dramatically. But if you are not careful, you could alienate your audience, or worse — and see no return on your efforts. In this episode, Sean Jackson and Chris Garrett cover the basics of where to place your opt-in forms and discuss several tools you should consider.
And now, on to this week’s links …
Content: A quick tip for the next time you’re struggling to finish a blog post
The process of writing a blog post so often begins with a flurry of focused inspiration and enthusiasm … only to get bogged down with struggles to find the perfect words, organize too much information, and settle on a perfect (or even just acceptable) way to conclude. At least for me. How about you?
This week on Copyblogger, I came across a great tip from Stefanie Flaxman that I know is going to help me out the next time I get bogged down with a blog post. It will likely help you too.
“Length doesn’t matter. A short post could be cluttered and convoluted; a long post could be cluttered and convoluted. A long post could be clear and crisp; a short post could be clear and crisp.
Even the busiest readers will make time for focused content, regardless of length, because they know they’ll get a payoff for their investment in it.”
Click below to find out how to keep your content focused.
Design: 27 useful, research-backed tips to help you design a website that works
This is an epic post — and worth the 20 minutes it claims you’ll need to read it.
A few interesting design nuggets I pulled out of this one:
- The “fold” still matters (of course), and there are tools that will help you see where the “average fold” is for your site.
- “The page was 20x longer. The conversion rate went up by 30%.”
- Beware of “false bottoms” (a concept I was not aware of until now).
- Use images with faces … but not stock images that are nothing more than “filler.”
- Faces, arrows, and colors can all be used as attention cues.
- Why descriptive, meaningful subheads matter.
- The power of loss aversion and how to weave it into your design and copy.
There are many more — as it says above, 27 in total. Take the time to peruse them all.
Two of the most important decisions you will make about your WordPress website are your theme and your hosting. Wouldn’t it be great if they worked together to make your website more powerful?
Now they can.
Technology: An in-depth tutorial on how to use Amazon Polly
Last week, I linked to a post at BobWP, and I mentioned that one of the reasons I was intrigued by the piece was its use of Amazon Polly to provide an audio version of the blog post.
Well, lo and behold, Bob has gone and written an in-depth post about why he decided to try Polly, how he set it up and uses it on his site, and what his current thoughts are about how much he’ll use it in the future.
If you’re interested in a low-cost way to add audio versions of your blog post (but definitely not as a way to replace hosting your own podcast), you should read about Bob’s experience.
Strategy: Durable URLs for SEO: how, when & why to use them
I have used durable URLs plenty of times in the past … but I didn’t realize they were called “durable URLs.” So this post went in a different direction than I thought it would when I clicked on the headline. But it’s a useful one.
An overview of what a durable URL is:
“A durable URL is one that is stable and could be updated with fresh content in the future while continuing to rank for many original keyword targets and maintaining ranking signals over time.
A durable URL doesn’t need to have already been updated to be thought of as durable — and plenty of URLs are updated frequently that wouldn’t be described as durable.
It’s simply a way of thinking about URLs, especially while they’re being created, which allows for future success through the accumulation of signals like inbound links.”
This post will give you some good ideas about how you might be able to strategically leverage more power from particular URLs.
Bonus article: How to decide if you really need to schedule a meeting
Meetings suck. We all agree on this, right?
Well, let me be more specific. Because some meetings are necessary and productive. Those are good meetings. Usually none of us are going to complain about those.
But poorly planned meetings — those suck.
Seth Godin has a list of questions to ask about any proposed meeting to decide if it’s worth holding. File this away for the next time you’re going to plan a meeting. If it doesn’t fit Seth’s criteria, you might want to find a different way to achieve whatever objective you had for the meeting.
Which of the ideas in these posts will you put to good use immediately?
I’ll be back with a new edition next week.